FIA President Jean Todt has issued a warning to Nikita Mazepin that there would likely be serious consequences should the young Russian find himself involved in further controversy.
Mazepin will make his Formula 1 debut with the Uralkali Haas F1 Team in 2021 alongside last years FIA Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher, but the Russian driver has found himself in hot water lately for things he’s done away from the track.
The twenty-two-year-old, who will race under a neutral flag in 2021 due to the worldwide ban on Russian athletes competing in international competitions due to anti-doping offences in the country, was filmed making inappropriate advances on a female during the off-season that led to widespread backlash against him.
Many were calling for his immediate termination from his new job, although it was clear from the launch that the funding from his father’s Uralkali business is helping Haas remain in the sport.
It is not the first time Mazepin has come under fire for something he should not have done, when back in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship he punched rival Callum Ilott, which earned him a race ban.
Todt has spoken out about the Russian, and he admits he has not been happy with what Mazepin has done in the past, and should he offend again, serious consequences may happen.
“To be very straightforward, I’m not happy about the situation,” said Todt in an interview with the Cambridge Union Society. “He has had a warning that if it will happen again, serious consequences will happen.
“Saying that, it’s something which happened in his private life. And unfortunately, he did not pay enough attention. So I simply hope he will learn out of this lesson.”
Mazepin, himself, has addressed his actions and says he has learned from what happened, and he says he is not proud of what he did. He insists he has ‘taken responsibility’ for his actions as he prepares to race in Formula 1 for the first time in 2021.
“How I reflect on my actions is pretty clear,” Mazepin is quoted as saying by Formula1.com. “I’m not proud of it, I didn’t behave as I meant to behave in Formula 1, and the transition phase of realising what I achieved has been very short and I didn’t adapt as quickly as I should have.
“But I have taken responsibility for it and I am ready to keep doing it because I’d like to be very strong in my position and certain.”
He says he was not too concerned about the possibility of losing his job with Haas, and after taking responsibility for what he called a ‘huge mistake’, he turned his attention to racing and having a clean rookie campaign.
“I’m a racing driver and have been a racing driver for the best part of my life,” said the Russian. “To be exact, for 15 years out of 22, which I’ve just turned recently.
“So as a driver you just focus on your job because it is very demanding when you are on track. You try not to make mistakes out of the circuit, it happened, I have made a huge mistake and taken responsibility for it and I have learned from it. I am looking forward to a clean year ahead.”
Todt says the flack that Haas took when they announced the signing of Mazepin was unjust as the twenty-two-year-old had done enough to earn a Superlicence.
“To drive in Formula 1, you need to have a Superlicence and it’s not easy to get a Superlicence because you need to have forty points,” said Todt. “So, each driver who gets forty points can [drive] in Formula 1.
“And Mazepin got the points. So, it would be discrimination. Why shouldn’t he drive in Formula 1? The reason why he would not drive in Formula 1 is he could not have access to a Superlicence, which is not the case.”